By Chad Ingram
“Basically I was shocked at the amount ofdeficit spending the Liberals are doing” says Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-BrockMP Jamie Schmale of the federal budget.
Unveiled March 22 the budget includes adeficit of $29.4 billion for the 2016-17 fiscal year. As part of their electioncampaign last year the Liberals promised deficits not to exceed $10 billion ayear for three consecutive years in order to stimulate the economy.
“They've destroyed that in one year”Schmale says. “That's a major promise broken.”
During the campaign the Liberal party alsopromised to get back on budget by the fourth year of the term.
“Right now that's blown out of the watertoo” Schmale says.
The budget includes not just a nearly $30billion deficit for the upcoming year but projected deficits of $29 billionfor 2017-18 $22.8 billion for 2018-19 and $17.7 billion for 2019-20.
By way of comparison the Conservativegovernment ran deficits of about $25 billion in 2011-12 $17 billion in 2012-13and five billion in 2013-14.
Another broken campaign promise was tolower the tax rate for small and medium-sized businesses from 10.5 to nine per cent. That didn't happenwith Tuesday's budget.
“I was very disappointed to see that”Schmale says. “ It's all on big government big-bureaucracy spending. Whereasin small towns we rely on small business to create jobs to createwealth.”
While the deficits the Liberals had talkedabout during the election campaign were to be focused on infrastructure onstimulus funding “that's not true with this budget” Schmale says pointingout that much of the spending is wrapped up in programming. “It's locked init's permanent.”
The MP says this means at some point taxesmust be raised to pay for it or services cut elsewhere.
Some of that spending will be done in FirstNations communities throughout Canada with $8.4 billion allocated to FirstNations over five years including $2.6 billion for primary and secondaryeduction.
“There are parts of the budget we support”Schmale says explaining that investments in First Nations communities andtheir education systems are needed. “It's a file that's never had the perfectsolution.”
However the Conservatives have criticizedthe government for altering the tracking mechanism of First Nations spending.
“It's unfortunate the Liberals got rid oftransparency surrounding First Nations accounting” Schmale says.
There is still funding for infrastructurealthough it is not exactly clear what kind of projects that money will be usedfor.
“We're still waiting for the details” saysSchmale adding he understands there may be some focus on transit and water andwaste water systems none of which are found in Haliburton County in any greatmeasure. “I'd like to see the details.”
On a positive note for the county Schmalesays the budget increases the guaranteed income supplement for eligible singleseniors up to $947 annually. The previous maximum was $747.
There's also funding for Internetexpansion.
“They did commit to expanding access tohigh-speed Internet” Schmale says. “That will help people right across thecounty and throughout rural Canada.”
The budget included welcome news forFleming College the school which has a campus in Haliburton County issuing a press release.
“Flemingis especially pleased to see the government respond to the call for additionalinfrastructure funding with the new Post-Secondary Institutions StrategicInvestment Fund which commits $2 billion over the next three years” therelease reads. “Coupled with the $9 billion Building Canada Fund this willhelp drive a much needed renewal in college infrastructure 60 per cent ofwhich currently exceeds its 40-year life cycle. The substantial increase inCanada Student Grants along with additional support for youth employmentmeasures and co-op work placements will contribute to greater access andhigher quality educational opportunities for students.”
Beginning in the next academic year post-secondarystudents from low-income families will be eligible for up to $3000 in grantsper year – up from $2000 – and those from middle-income families will beeligible for up to $1200 a year up from $800.